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HPV Vaccination: Do Your Part!

By Amishi Mittal



Introduction to HPV


The human papillomavirus (HPV) is a sexually transmitted disease. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), HPV is the most commonly sexually transmitted disease. This disease is common in teenagers and young adults (ages 16-early 20s). There are many variations of HPV, and each type can have a variety of consequences, but there are vaccines that have been developed to prevent the spread of this disease. HPV may not be expressed in some people; in other words, people can be asymptomatic. Additionally, people can develop symptoms years after the initial infection, making it difficult to pinpoint exactly when one was infected. Most cases of HPV go away on their own, but in more severe cases, infection can lead to health problems such as genital warts and cancers. People with weakened immune systems may have trouble fighting off HPV and are more likely to develop health problems. Although there are no treatments for HPV, there are treatments for the genital warts and the cancers that may arise as a result of infection.


Statistics About HPV Vaccination

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “1.6 million more girls were not fully protected against human papillomavirus (HPV) in 2020, compared to the previous year.” Additionally, there are many large countries that have not yet introduced the vaccine. Because of the Covid-19 pandemic, HPV dose coverage decreased from 15% to 13%. According to the CDC, around 5 in every 10 teenagers are up to date with the HPV vaccine. This implicates how half of the teenager population in America is not up to date with the vaccine.


HPV Vaccine (Background Information)

The HPV vaccine Gardasil 9 was approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for both girls and boys. The vaccine can prevent most cases of cervical cancer if administered before a girl or woman is exposed to the virus. It can prevent vaginal, vulvar cancer and may also protect against cancers in the mouth and throat that have been linked with HPV. Boys should also be vaccinated to help decrease the transmission likelihood. This vaccine protects against more than one strain of HPV, so even if one has had one strain of HPV, they should still get vaccinated to prevent the development of disease from another strain.


HPV Vaccine (Mechanism Of Action)

The HPV vaccine stimulates the body to produce antibodies against HPV to prevent it from infecting other cells. Current HPV vaccines use virus-like particles (VLPs) that are formed by HPV surface components but are not infectious because they lack the viral DNA. These VLPs have been found to be highly immunogenic, meaning that they stimulate the body to produce high amounts of the antibody.


Who Should Get Vaccinated?

HPV vaccination is recommended for children aged 11 or 12 until the age of 26. Anyone over the age of 26 is not recommended to get vaccinated, unless they have consulted with their healthcare provider. HPV is such a common disease that according to the CDC, every person that is sexually active will get HPV at some point in their life if they are not vaccinated. Although most people with HPV never develop symptoms or complications from it, it is always better to be protected. HPV can cause cancers that affect 19,400 women and 12,100 men every year, so it is important to get vaccinated to prevent the onset of these problems.


Conclusion

Getting vaccinated for HPV is important not only because it prevents the onset of the disease in individuals, but it overall reduces infection in the human population by reducing the number of cases of certain HPV types. In other words, vaccination helps build herd immunity. Vaccination will reduce the prevalence of HPV in the human population, and has the potential to reduce the number of cervical cancer cases worldwide. It is important to get vaccinated, to protect yourself from the disease and protect the public. Do the right thing and get vaccinated!


References

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021, January 19). Std facts - human papillomavirus (hpv). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/std/hpv/stdfact-hpv.htm.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2018, August 23). Hpv vaccination: Understanding hpv coverage. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/hpv/partners/outreach-hcp/hpv-coverage.html.


World Health Organization. (2021, July 15). Immunization coverage. World Health Organization. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/immunization-coverage.


Mayo Clinic Staff. (2020, May 14). Hpv vaccine: Get the facts. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hpv-infection/in-depth/hpv-vaccine/art-20047292.

Human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines. National Cancer Institute. (n.d.). https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/infectious-agents/hpv-vaccine-fact-sheet.

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